Category Archives: News

Mitigating the Perfect Storm

Mitigating the Perfect Storm: Navigating your Team Successfully Through Big Organizational Changes

Beth Montag-Schmaltz talks to IABC Oregon-ColumbiaBudget cuts, new leadership, reorganization, new product launches, mergers & acquisitions — change is the only constant these days, causing change saturation & impacting organizational agility.

On October 16, 2013, IABC Oregon-Columbia hosted Beth Montag-Schmaltz of PeopleFirm, one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies (2011 and 2012).

View Beth’s slides here.

Communications professionals serve a critical strategic role in times of change. Help your organization make the leap from a project view to an enterprise view, and transform employees into champions for change!

Beth Montag-Schmaltz shared a tool to identify areas of change saturation in your organization, and walked us through an exercise to get you on your way to developing your own change management communications strategy!

Feb. 11, 2013: Developing a Winning Mobile & Video Marketing Strategy – Kent Lewis

Today more consumers own mobile devices than televisions, offering communicators direct and personal access to a large population via voice and text messaging, email, web browser and applications. Digital video, led by YouTube, is also a rapidly growing and increasingly effective form of marketing.

Kent Lewis, Anvil Media

Kent Lewis, Anvil Media

On February 11th, Kent Lewis, President & Founder of Anvil Media, outlined effective mobile and video marketing strategies and tactics, as well as tools and trends. Attendees were able to develop or further optimize their mobile and video marketing programs for 2013 and beyond.

Download Video Marketing Slides.

“Thank you Kent Lewis for giving a fantastic presentation on how to develop a successful mobile & video marketing strategy. Until tonight I never thought that the ‘How to Tie a Tie’ videos on YouTube could potentially generate $4,000 a year for their producers. I especially liked the advice around keeping text transcripts of your video to use in SEO and stripping the audio to upload to iTunes. There were many ‘good practice’ tidbits that seemed very easy to perform, but also very easy to forget.”
-Alexander J. Domingo

From OCIABC’s co-presidents

From Melissa and Chris

It’s hard to believe that we’re well into another new year already. Hope this one is shaping up well for you. We wanted to let you know about a few things the chapter has coming up in the next few months as we kick off 2011.

Monthly chapter meetings. Meetings are a great way to mingle with your fellow communicators and get food for thought on the latest issues facing our profession. Third Tuesdays, 11:30 to 1 p.m., at the Benson Hotel, 309 SW Broadway, Portland. Next meeting Feb. 15.  

Volunteers. Volunteering is a fun way to get the most out of your membership. Work with other professionals, share war stories, seek advice, etc.— all while helping your fellow members by producing interesting projects that benefit the chapter and our profession. We’re actively seeking volunteers for several committees, so if you’d like to help out, please consider:

  •  Bronze Beacon Committee. Join this fun group as we plan the annual awards banquet and competition process. Committee will organize the entry process; plan awards banquet; and organize the judging of another chapter’s entries (reciprocal for their judging ours). For more information, please contact VP of Awards KJ McAllister
  • Professional Development Committee. The light duties of this committee include helping set up and staff the registration table at the monthly lunches; greeting people and helping them feel welcome; and drawing names for door prizes at the end of the meeting. It’s an easy way to get involved with the chapter at the same time you’re meeting others with similar interests. For more information, please contact VP of Professional Development Scott Etheredge.
  • Communicators Conference. Our biggest annual event, the Communicators Conference (in association with PRSA) brings hundreds of communicators to the Governor Hotel in early May to network, develop skills, and have a day enjoyably submersed in all things communication. For more information, please contact board member and VP Hunter Moss
  • OCIABC board. We currently have openings on the board for the VP of Publicity and Promotion and VP of Membership. The first position position primarily requires someone with great follow-through who can notify local media of our newsworthy events and activities. For the membership role, we’d look for an individual who can lead our membership outreach and help promote the value of IABC membership.  For info, please contact either of us.

Thanks and hope to see you at the Benson!

 Melissa Steineger & Chris Wain

International Association of Business Communicators
Oregon-Columbia chapter

Planning Communication Audits

Planning Communication Audits

By Louis C. Williams Jr., ABC, APR, IABC Fellow

There are many good reasons for an audit, including:

  • Assess the effectiveness of the overall communications process.
  • Determine how to leverage communicators in multiple divisions.
  • Evaluate relevance and usefulness of various communication channels.
  • Assess whether audiences have received and understood key messages.
  • Develop an ongoing process for measuring effectiveness of communications.
  • Define a strategic communication plan.

Even that short list makes it pretty clear that audits are not one-size-fits-all projects. Their variety in scope, method and cost is astonishing. An audit can take several weeks or several months; many cost US$40,000 to US$60,000. Some audits can be squeaked through for as little as US$25,000, and others run several hundred thousand dollars. Audit scope and cost are heavily influenced by project objectives, organizational size and complexity, and geography.

Audit components

Common components of communication audits include:

  • Analysis of existing communication channels.
  • Qualitative research.
  • Quantitative research.
  • Report and action planning.
  • Follow-up.

That said, audits are not off-the-shelf surveys. Audits must be individually designed in light of an organization’s needs, industry, culture, resources and audiences. Audits can measure a total program, or any single project within a larger program—internally and/or externally. Communicators usually find some components of the audit useful for monitoring communication performance, and they incorporate those pieces into their ongoing processes.
There are some particularly beneficial times to conduct audits. These include:

  • Installation of a new CEO or management team. This is a wonderful way for a CEO to assess the nature of a communication support structure, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the communication function.
  • New or changing market conditions. When major changes confront an organization—as when an agribusiness concern faces a grain embargo, for example—an audit can explore perceptions that may exist among target audiences, including customers, suppliers, competitors, etc.
  • New regulatory restrictions.  New or tougher regulations or legislation affecting a company’s products or business methods may call for an examination of communication messaging and audiences. A prime example of this would be deregulation, as occurred in the U.S. banking and airline industry a few years ago.
  • Recent mergers or acquisitions. These kinds of changes demand a detailed examination of how to focus communication efforts. An audit can help foster the more efficient integration of resources made possible in a merger.
  • Organizational restructuring. Whenever internal reorganizations occur, they need to be accompanied by a rethinking of how communication can be effective. An audit will help uncover the issues, dysfunctions and fears that need to be addressed in a program—both internally with employees, and externally with customers and suppliers.
  • New or increased competition. Any time your marketplace sees an influx of competition, or if the competitive landscape is altered through economic conditions, a communications audit may be a useful tool. One could make a case that such tech-based organizations as eBay, Amazon and Microsoft have been able to survive the recent economic downturn because they did pay attention to communication.
  • Poor public image. Organizations facing rising costs, economic downturns and environmental concerns would be wise to explore how communications could improve their situation. If they fully understood the issues facing them and how audiences important to them respond to those issues, then they might be able to deliver an appropriate, effective response that could help immensely.
  • Threats to management’s authority or credibility. Looming circumstances like a product boycott or a strike can be ideal times to audit an organization’s communication capability. Understanding pertinent issues and audiences will be key to responding appropriately.
  • Major expansion plans. If your organization is about to launch a major new product line, it would be well to understand not just what needs to be done tactically to hit the right media at the right time, but also to understand both negative and positive issues surrounding the product. You’ll want to have messaging that gets in front of issues, as well as supports the sales effort.

There are, of course, some moments in an organization’s life when an audit is not a good idea, such as when the organization is in the absolute middle of a traumatic experience. For example, if a CEO has been fired or left to take another job, then you may want to wait until a new CEO has been put in place before attempting an audit. There would be far too many questions in people’s minds and too much uncertainty to get a clear picture of the communication atmosphere. That isn’t to say that sensing at such a time isn’t important and appropriate, just that a formal audit may not be the best course of action at that moment.

Bottom line, however, is that there is only one way an audit can be truly successful: It must be viewed as an ongoing process, not just a final report. An important element of every audit is integrative processes—that is, how we take what we’ve learned and apply it to the entire organization in an orderly, structured manner. For our audit to succeed, we must integrate the results into the everyday life of the organization.

Excerpted from Communication Research, Measurement and Evaluation by Lou Williams, ABC, APR available on the IABC Knowledge Centre.

Message from OCIABC’s Chapter President-Signing Off

Looking back, signing off
on our 2009-2010 board year

Next month marks the end of the 2009-2010 OCIABC board year. This means the end of my term as chapter president. It has been a pleasure and rewarding experience serving you in this capacity. Thank you for your confidence and giving me this opportunity. Thanks also to the dedicated board members that served with me. It was an honor to lead a group of spirited and talented professionals. With their relentless volunteer efforts and boundless creativity we accomplished much this past year for OCIABC namely:

  • Ratified the revised chapter by-laws (mandatory approval of at least 85 percent of membership).
  • Migrated website to a new server/host and platform (e.g., WordPress).
  • Launched Google Analytics to track online traffic and revamp layout of website.
  • Designed and use a new organizational banner for events.
  • Activated and utilize social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Co-hosted and organized a highly successful Portland Communicators Conference last month. There were 278 registered attendees with over a dozen on waitlist!
  • Presented two well-received professional development seminar (Beyond Reputation Management – Creating and Integrated Social Media Strategy” with Kevin Murphy) and panel (Uncharted Territory: Maximizing Employee Engagement, Trust, and Morale in Uncertain Times).
  • Hosted a monthly and free networking mixer at On Deck sports bar.

The board will also transition in July. Some of the current VPs will remain for another term while others will be wrapping up one or more years of service. The complete list of board members for the 2010-2011 year will be presented for your approval in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to incoming OCIABC chapter president, Sally Giedrys. I hope you will extend the same welcome and support to her and the new board.

There are currently open positions available on the board including:

  • Executive VP
  • VP of e-Communications
  • VP of Professional Development
  • VP of Finance

Finally, I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to all my OCIABC friends for their support and help in my job search. My professional career has been on an involuntary “hiatus” for almost a year, having been laid off since last summer. As some of you may understand, looking for work in this tough environment can be very frustrating and disheartening. Through it all my OCIABC network has kept me abreast of new openings and helped me make relevant contacts. Most importantly, OCIABC members have provided me with encouragement and camaraderie. If you are in the same boat as I am, reach out to your OCIABC colleagues – you’ll be happy to know that no matter how busy they may be, many have a few minutes to spare, a sympathetic ear and a cheerful word or two!


Eloisa Townsend

President, 2009-2010
Oregon Columbia IABC